WHILE other agencies can barely justify their request for millions of peso of confidential funds, the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday was “offered” a chance to have such funds but it declined.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, acting chairperson of the Senate sub-committee on Finance, said he favors that the DFA also be given confidential funds to augment its diplomacy work overseas.
“Siguro if there’s any civilian agency na dapat magkaroon ng malaking (confidential) fund, no doubt, dapat ang DFA bigyan na malaking suporta. Alam ko our counterparts from other countries malaki ang disbursement nila sa [confidential] fund sa kanilang DFA. For James Bond purposes, napakalaki ng investment ng ibang bansa sa kanilang mga DFA,” Dela Rosa said during the hearing on DFA budget Tuesday.
“Tayo ang Jine-James Bond ng ibang bansa eh. Tayo, hindi tayo nag-je-James Bond,” he added.
The former-chief-of-police-turned-senator stressed that the foreign service should also be given confidential funds “for strategic purposes.”
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III asked DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo, “For the record, is the department asking for a confidential fund?”
“No we are not,” Manalo replied.
Pimentel urged Bato “not to give the [DFA] a headache” but parked the idea for later discussion.
Under the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Practices, diplomats are prohibited from conducting espionage against the country where they are assigned. However, it has become a practice by some sending countries to send diplomats to “collect information” that sometimes borders on espionage. Many consider this practice as abuse of their privileges as many who were found to have spied on their host governments were merely declared persona non grata since they have diplomatic immunities.
Pimentel lauded the DFA for the “noble” use of the “contingent” fund from the Office of the President for helping countries which experience large-scale catastrophes or emergencies.
The DFA has tapped US$500,000 (P28.5 million) from the OP’s contingent fund for 2023.
Manalo said the DFA cited the case of Turkey and Monaco which experienced massive destruction from strong magnitude earthquakes.
“Ito ang lehitimo, tama at commendable na ginawa ng Republika ng Pilipinas na ginawa ng DFA,” Pimentel said.